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Expo provides education about diabetes while promoting prevention

Julie Severn

4/11/2002 12:00:00 AM

Diabetes education and prevention efforts were promoted by the Nimkee Memorial Wellness Center staff during the Second Annual Diabetes Expo on April 9 at the Soaring Eagle Ballroom.

Health care providers conducted about 150 health screenings-a significant increase over last years exams.

Screenings were available to test blood sugar levels, HDL and total cholesterol, blood pressure, kidney function and hemoglobin A 1c.

"We had a great turnout with a large variety of people taking part in the screening," said Diabetic Educator Tammy House, RN. "It was wonderful to see the younger population taking charge of their own health and realize the need to be tested. Diabetes affects all age groups."

Central Michigan University student Erica Hancock attended the expo before driving home to Grand Rapids.

"This is the first time I've ever been tested," said Hancock. "Diabetes runs in my family, so it just makes me feel better to know that I'm on the right track."

Diabetics have an increased risk of developing complications due to high blood pressure. The International Diabetes Center recommends diabetics have their blood pressure checked at least twice a year and keep it lower than 130/85.

Tribal member Phyllis Kequom and husband Frank went through the screening together.

"I haven't had my cholesterol or blood pressure checked in a while and it's important because I am diabetic, so we came from Beal City just for the screening," said Phyllis.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, vision loss and erectile dysfunction in men.

Foot exams and dilated eye exams were also provided to diabetics during the expo.

Donald Stauffer of Vestaburg was one of the 20 people to take advantage of the eye exams performed by Pleasant Optics. Diabetic retinopathy causes blindness to 25,000 people a year.

His wife Irene read about the event in a newspaper and decided her husband needed to be tested.

"I've recently had a bunch of tests done, so this a great chance for my husband to have his eyes dilated and tested and I'll drive home," said Stauffer.

House said the number of kidney exams were doubled and there were five times as many foot exams as last year. Dr. Mark D. Young administered foot exams.

"Diabetics should check their feet at least once a day and see their pediatrist at least once a year," Young said. "Comfortable shoes are also very important. It's a good idea to wait until the end of the day when feet are most swollen to determine the appropriate shoe size."

About one in five diabetics seek medical attention for ordinary foot problems that can eventually lead to serious complications. House said routine foot care can prevent most related difficulties

Fifteen informational booths were set up by local health projects, drug representatives, the Nimkee Clinic and the Nimkee Fitness Center.

House said she received positive feedback from vendors as well as community members.

"A lot of peoples' insurance doesn't cover the cholesterol tests or the exams, so it was nice to provide these services to the public."

House said a key part of prevention is maintaining a healthy lifestyle by exercising and avoiding fast foods.

"We know a lot more than we used to about diabetes," she added. "Type II diabetes is not curable, but is preventable."

House encourages diabetics to keep all of their medical appointments and to make sure their health care providers have the needed exams and tests done yearly.

Diabetes Support Group meetings are held the fourth Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the Nimkee Memorial Wellness Center.